THE END OF A STINT by @eggheader SEUN ODEWALE October 15, 2014Posted by seunfakze in Uncategorized.
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My brother and friend writes as Dr. John Kayode Fayemi’s governorship journey comes to a close.
THE END OF A STINT by ‘Seun Odewale
Today, as we take our final bow and depart from the Government House, Ado-Ekiti, I recall that date four years ago when the Court of Appeal, holden in Ilorin, gave a resounding ruling declaring Kayode Fayemi as the duly elected Governor of Ekiti State, after a grueling three and half years of legal scrimmage.
Developments, days, weeks and months before this ruling, had elicited a lot of despair among the population. Obviously, this necessitated the acclaim that greeted the announcement of Fayemi as the Governor of Ekiti State, and understandably, the expectations – possible and plausible – that the new government will in no time resolve or bring to an end ‘ALL’ the sufferings of the people and take Ekitis to their long longed Eldorado.
Definitely, that Eldorado was not to be, but there is consistent concurrence from every quarter that Fayemi has not only discharged himself creditably well, but also advanced the cause and course of Ekiti significantly positively. Now, those who expected that the Ekiti man or woman should have expressed gratitude only through immediate electoral votes might have missed the point but that is a topic for another day. What is evident is that the last four years in Ekiti has witnessed a nonpareil development driven governance that has impacted on all layers of the society and in all nooks and crannies of the state or even beyond. Yours sincerely has been a proud member of that winning team!
From my initial appointment as the Personal Assistant to the Governor to my latter day redeployment as the Deputy Chief of Staff, I occupied an integral but strategic position within the outgoing administration. Sincerely, I have been more than privileged to serve under a Kayode Fayemi administration. And even a greater privilege to have worked with or meet all the wonderful folks that have ensured that my tour of duty was worth the while. These are by no means limited to those physically present in Ekiti alone. To mention names here would be to enact an epistle of inordinate length. I know I have gleaned or gained different things from different people, each to varying degrees, but no matter how smidgen, I cherish and appreciate every token of support that I have received, either within propinquity or from far flung places.
In equal measure, I must pay especial tribute to all our traducers, those who even in dying will never see any good citation to applaud. Ironically, they make us tick. Unbeknown to them, those unwavering admonitions and criticisms became the fillip with which I continually gauge, amend and improve on my person and on the inputs I made at every opportunity during my tour of duty. Perhaps, one would have been carried away in self-affectations of goodwill, but you constantly kept the lid on our conducts, policies and programmes. More than anyone would think, I believe you deserve my utmost recognition for willingly maintaining the socio-political equilibrium within which you are definitely indispensable.
At this point, I must thank all those that have helped me one way or the other to wade through these past years, while I also like to apologize to those who I might have offended – usually inadvertently – during the discharge of my duties. For those in the latter category, I am sure you will understand with me that those offending moments were never deliberate but also that sometimes, difficult or unpalatable decisions/utterances must be made to achieve needful progress. Again, I unreservedly apologize.
I am not unmindful that the next couple of days and weeks will open the vistas for ceaseless assessment of our conducts in office in the past four years, I wish to assure everyone that I shall continue to present myself to such ongoing public scrutiny as is expected of my person.
I thank you all as I must now journey into another productive future of unending opportunities.
Oct 15, 2014.
CHILDHOOD MEMORIES – JONAH THE SLEEP MASTER October 9, 2014Posted by seunfakze in EDUCATION.
Tags: african memories, childhood, education, examination
It was one of those days when a terminal examination had just held. My friends and I, over-joyous at the concluded examination whilst excited about freedom of two weeks, resorted to the game of football. I was just 12, and for teenage boys my age; football is one of the few things that gives us joy.
I assumed my number 9 role amongst my favorite team that day, and as usual, we outplayed other teams set after set. We played football till about 5pm when we all called it quits. I was tired. I was happy. I was tired. Such complementary feeling does football bring for teenage boys.
Getting home, I found the keys at its hiding place. My siblings had gone to church and thankfully, my parents were not yet back. I went to the bathroom, soaked myself in the bath and after about 30 minutes; sauntered into my room and slept off. Door opened.
I slept off and happy we’re my dreams. I dreamt of football, winning many rounds and being carried shoulder high along our trophy. Smiles all over my face, unequalled joy over my teams glowing faces. And then the bangs came. First, faintly and then loud and repeated. I jolted, from my sleep, awake from my refreshing dreams.
I turned. Twisted. Trying to make sense of the noise. “Who is that?” I queried. “Come one stand up and open the door, you silly boy” one of my elder siblings replied. I strolled to the living room, opened the door and behold; the whole neighborhood.
Some had been banging my window, while others had been hitting the door. I saw clubs, metals, and all necessary object that could wake me up from the dead. The look on my dad’s face; indescribable. Today I thank my heavens for those neighbours who were around to restrain him from giving me my first beating.
Whilst I was enjoying my sleep for over one hour, my neighborhood had been in disarray; in fact I heard a lot thought I could not be in the house oven how much noise they had made. The only assurance they had I was in was because they could see me lying in bed from the window (my door was open).
I apologized and went back to bed, but not stern warnings of not repeating any such in the future.
The life of a teenage African…
#BRINGBACKOURGIRLS: CALL FOR GLOBAL WEEK OF ACTION October 7, 2014Posted by seunfakze in Uncategorized.
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Wednesday, July 23rd will mark 100 days since 276 girls were savagely abducted from their school in Chibok, Borno State. 57 escaped and 219 remain in captivity. The families and community have suffered deep anguish seeking effective rescue to end the peril that befell their daughters who had gone to school in search of knowledge.
In those 100 days, the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign has focused on creating awareness of the abduction to ensure that it is a priority issue requiring action and compelling the right sets of action for a positive outcome. We have engaged various stakeholders – the Presidency, the National Assembly, the office of the National Security Adviser, the Chief of Defense Staff, the Borno State Government & other State Governments, ECOWAS member countries and UN agencies to name a few.
Through our various meetings, our singular message has been to demand that the Federal Government perform its fundamental duty of ensuring the security and the welfare of its citizens. As we denounce the wave of terror and insecurity across the country, we continue to demand that the Federal Government deploy its resources to ensure that the missing girls are brought home, and the errors leading from three-weeks of delayed action are remedied.
Citizens who have insisted on standing with our girls and ensuring they are not forgotten are heartbroken that our daughters and sisters are about to spend 100 days with their evil captors.
To amplify our voices in demanding that these girls be brought home now and alive, on the 100th day, there will be a variety of activities around the world. These include:
• Ibadan: Press Conference at the BRECAN Centre at 10 am
• Abuja: Special sit-out ceremony at the Unity Fountain at 3 pm
• Lagos: Remembrance service at the Wall of Missing Girls at Falomo Roundabout at 4pm
• New York: Candlelight vigil at the Nigerian Consulate at 5.30pm.
There will also be events in India, Pakistan, the UK and most world capitals where there are teachers’ organisations in partnership with the UN Special Envoy’s Office of Gordon Brown. Organisations participating are World at School, Girls not Brides, Global March Against Child Labour, Walk Free, Educational International and ITa.
The continued pattern of intolerance to the activities of the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign is at variance with our effort to promote healthy civic engagement by citizens to strengthen the resolve of government to rescue the girls.
As days become weeks and months and our girls are separated from their parents and their community, our singular focus remains on their safe return in the shortest possible time.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Hadiza Bala Usman, Abuja
Oby Ezekwesili, Abuja
Aisha Oyebode, Lagos
Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, Lagos
Betty Anyanwy-Akeredolu, Ibadan
Amina Hanga, Kano
Eleanor Ann Nwadinobi, Enugu
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Dear Mr President,
I am compelled to write given the recent spate of attacks and spurious statements by your media aides and security operatives alleging the hijack of the BringBackOurGirls movement – a citizens collective effort to stay vigilant on the kidnapped girls. I belong to this movement in my capacity as a citizen of Nigeria, and I feel deeply insulted that some of your aides have either acted in their own capacity or succeeded in misleading you through deliberate misinformation about the movement.
Last week, Ms Marilyn Ogar, in her characteristic manner, called this movement a franchise; a statement which I consider highly derogatory and unsavoury. Unfortunately, she cast serious aspersions on the integrity of those who constitute the movement in Nigeria and worldwide. The leadership of the Abuja chapter of the movement has clearly disproved these allegations but I keep wondering why you allow such untold misrepresentation to go on under your watch.
Only recently, precisely 15th July, 2014; one of your senior media aides Dr. Doyin Okupe alleged that Ms Obiageli Ezekwesili instigated the families of the kidnapped girls from attending the meeting you scheduled, whom you had only recently deemed fit to meet after 92 days. I am quite sure Ms Ezekwesili, who remains one Nigerian with incorruptible integrity and who desperately wants these girls rescued, will never resort to such act as portrayed by Dr Okupe. Moreover Mr President, history bears witness that it took you 3 weeks before you acknowledged these atrocious kidnap; and all of us are aware of the arrest that befell members of the movement after the scheduled meeting they had with your wife, the First Lady of Nigeria, Mrs Patience Jonathan. Personally, it is not far-fetched why they will ignore your meeting: the precedence of denial, intimation and arrests of members of the movement is telling.
I find it utterly disrespectful that consistently, Dr. Okupe’s characteristic name-calling, character assassination and pedestrian outbursts keep mocking the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The letter, which was widely distributed in the media, was attributed to have been written by you; but I am certain the person of the President of Nigeria will never write such.Whatever the grievances Dr. Okupe has with Ms Ezekwesili, the office of the President should not be reduced to such dance of shame in the media. Honestly, I keep wondering how you will allow yourself and your noble office to be such ridiculed by such dramatis personae as aides.
Regardless of the constant attack and publicity strategy of the establishment to frustrate, derail and divide us; we stay strong and committed to demanding that the girls be brought back alive. I am aware of the complexities that may be involved in securing the release of these girls, which consequently may have prevented an open and transparent citizens interaction. However, the fact that we disagree with the secrecy involved in the attempts at rescuing these girls that does not give any of your aides the right to castigate us and demean our persons using all of the channels of manipulations it has.
Mr. President, you swore an oath to the security and welfare of the Nigerian people. Not only have you consistently failed in this regard, but Nigeria’s security incompetence during these trying times have occurred despite appropriating the highest resource in the budget to security (about N3tn in 3 years). Mr. President, based on the sustained captivity of the past three months following these girls kidnap, based on the insecurity challenges of the past years under your watch; no other institution of government has terrorized Nigerians psychologically than the Federal Government of Nigeria.
ANOTHER FLASH IN THE PAN? @MedviewAirlines July 12, 2014Posted by seunfakze in MOTIVATION.
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The first time I heard about Medview Airline was Wednesday 9th July, 2014. My return flight had been booked for an EbonyLife TV event in Lagos. My first reactions were of disbelief and fear, ones which are not totally different from Nigerians who either have a regular airline or those who have experienced constant disappointments from Nigerian airlines with peculiar penchant for not keeping to time. Besides, owing to my slight phobia for flying, I was a bit disappointed I would not be using my accustomed airline but trying another one. I shrugged off my fears, packed my bags and prepared for my trip the following day.
Thursday. I arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport 2 hours before time, and checked in. It was a bit comforting to see my brother Japheth Omojuwa at the airport; apparently we travelled for the same event and we were booked on the same flight. Having missed each other for months, we quickly settled in to serious discussions about our society and the huge challenge before our generation. Our flight was scheduled for 9am, and the airline surprisingly announced our boarding on time.
By 9am, we were on our way to Lagos, refreshment was light but tasted good. We arrived as scheduled in the flight details. We went for our event, finished and left for the airport for our 5pm return flight to Abuja. By 4:30pm, exhausted, hungry and definitely looking forward to the snacks served while airborne; we were checked in and we waited patiently for the 5pm flight. This is where the problem started.
The 5pm flight was delayed for 45 minutes, which left us a bit worried. It is understandable when we had other engagements in Abuja, and besides; we were seriously hungry. By 5:45pm, another announcement explained “Medview flight to Abuja has been delayed for another 45 minutes”. At this point, Japheth and I decided we would get some food before we die of hunger. We left for KFC, met some friends over lunch and chatted about 30 minutes away. Before this, we realized there was a Medview plane around and wondered why we were not boarding already.
On our way back in, we noticed some angry voices from the Medview stand and so we made an approach. We found confusing messages from apparently distraught passengers “the flight had been cancelled” “the flight has been rescheduled” “funds will be refunded”. Since we could not get an official information from the airline, I quickly sent out tweets asking friends for a link to Medview Airlines. I got responses and quickly sent tweets to the airline. I was pleasantly surprised to see the response from the airline within minutes where they reassured us the delay was due to technical challenges with the available plane. Many passengers threatened fire and brimstone whilst others asked for a refund as they had appointments. Only one pressured for and got a refund, others waited.
By 7pm, we were told and promised that the other plane would arrive by 8pm. However, to my utter surprise, (as this is not customary with similar Nigerian airlines with delay peculiarities), we were all taken to a restaurant where passengers were treated to sumptuous meals. Mixed feelings. Japheth and I had just had lunch some 2 hours earlier, but we took time and had some drinks with snails. (smiles).
As scheduled, the plane arrived by 8pm wherein we were informed and consequently prepared to board. By 8:40pm, we were all on board and the flying crew took turns in apologizing about the hitch and delay caused. My interview with other passengers revealed that Medview ALWAYS fly as scheduled and that they, as regular customers, were surprised of the disappointing delay they experienced that day. Online commentaries also revealed the same opinion about Medview. Although this is peculiar with airlines commencing new services in Nigeria, I hoped that Medview airlines would actually set out to make a serious difference in the aviation industry where constant disappointments with scheduled flights and bad customer service was a normal thing. The following day, they checked up on me and apologized again for the delayed flight; whilst appealing to me to always “fly with us”.
As someone who had experienced serious delays from Nigerian airlines (with my worst with Aero contractors which took me to Lagos around 1:30am for a 5pm flight), I was pleasantly surprised at the professional disposition, and responsive customer service relation from Medview Airlines. It will be totally unjust not to write about my experience with Medview Airlines. I do hope this attitude will continue for a long time and perhaps help build their brand as a reliable airline to always fly with.
Time will totally justify Medview Airlines – if truly this is a new beginning to a sustained customer friendly service or just another flash in the pan.
John Kayode Fayemi – Spearheading Ekiti’s Renaissance July 12, 2014Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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It is easy to wear the deportment of detachment when Ekiti State is mentioned. Well, that used to be the state synonymous with pandemonium and violence; and until recently very bad road networks and stunted growth. Home to about 2.6million Nigerians, Ekiti state is located deep in the heart of Western Nigeria, a hilly state (from where its name is reputedly derived) and is home to some of the nation’s most prominent and eminent Professors.
It is humus ground for rumour mongering as well as active political awareness amongst citizens. Ekiti citizens know their rights, always have a point to prove, always have a say; and their political sagacity cannot be underestimated. In other words, they are politically opinionated and socially republican. Besides, historically, you will do well to remember that the sweeping tide of 1966 and the downward turn of Nigeria began in 1964 during the Omoboriowo crises of Ijero (then in Old Ondo State).
Ekiti State has passed through years of turbulence. That is no longer news. Any avid follower of the political terrain in Ekiti State will easily recount the number of Governors (elected and imposed) and Administrators that have since occupied the exalted leading position since its creation as a state in 1996. What is not news too, is the years of economic pillage and erosion of values that has confounded the state, and in turn worsened the social value fabric that once stood the state up as an ideal model of respect, love for elders, industry, amongst many others.
It is my duty to visit my state every quarter, an act much necessitated by my parents living in my country home. During these days, I take time to go around the communities and see firsthand the travails and experience under democratic rule. On these visitations, I have been engrossed with stories of unfulfilled promises by politicians (as is usual in Nigeria) and frustrations amidst growing apathy amongst the citizenry. It seems, after all, that settling with under-performing leaders seem to be the new turn in our democratic dispensation.
Year after year, I have seen deplorable roads; abandoned projects (sometimes from previous administrations), sub-standard white elephant projects, and above all, grand-scale cover up of corrupt practices. As a young Nigerian with deep interest in policy research, advocacy and social entrepreneurship, I became attracted to the administration of Dr. Fayemi (whom I found a breath of fresh air given his civil society foundations, political meteoric rise to leadership and undoubtedly his academic background).
However, my love for advancing development across Nigerian communities led me to criticizing him heavily in his first year of leading the ship in Ekiti State. It seemed there were several stumbling blocks towards development in those early days under Kayode Fayemi and my generation, being in haste, spared no effort at pointing them out in their colours and shades. The traffic delays caused by rocks being blasted while travelling the then Ifaki-Ado road during construction, and the lethargic handling of the road caused me much anguish and I spared no words in describing the administration of Kayode Fayemi as “slow, much unfocussed, and a leadership committed unfortunately to another set of construction jamborees”.
I am aware how long it may take a State as landlocked as Ekiti, and as cash-restrained to advance in the path of development as seen in other developed communities. My difficulties in understanding the mind of such a visionary as Kayode Fayemi was also compounded in the fact that he is not a showman who advertises what he does. After being frustrated with the hooliganism which Mr. Ayo Fayose’s administration heralded, I feared the worst in 2011 and most of 2012; thinking Dr. Fayemi was much disconnected with the travails of the common man in the state. I was wrong. I was invited to Ekiti state. My online vituperations, having caught the eyes of some of Dr Fayemi’s team, heralded my first visit to the state in 2013.
I got the ROADMAP TO EKITI RECOVERY, and began a tour of the state to verify the claims made by the administration. Ekiti state is taunted as having the most open and accessible leadership. I have that verified. Not only was I able to visit commissioners and query their policies, decision-making processes and projects; but I was given free access to take pictures, make my criticisms without any sense of trepidation or harassment. It is naturally difficult to have your say at “Men In Power” in Nigeria, especially where sycophancy and hero worship reigns supreme. Unlike previous administrations too, he completed the projects left over by the administration of Gov. Segun Oni.
It takes a visionary to understand that leading a poor state out of the doldrums require more than paying monthly salaries (which take an estimated 87% of monthly revenue) and drinking Alomo bitters by the roadside. Borrowing N25bn altogether from the stock market is not only commendable, the systematic monthly deductions towards repaying the loan has enabled the state pay about 60% of the total bond sourced from the stock market. Detractors are quick to point at this borrowing, but anyone adept at development will know it is a no-brainer.
That Dr. Kayode Fayemi is a visionary is no longer news to most of those who know him or those who have been unbiased in assessing his style of leadership. I had a 19 _ minute critical discussion with him around 2am and I must confess he is an amazing workaholic. It is admirable to see Nigeria still has men of sterling qualities in leadership especially one whose monthly allocation remains the 35th (out of 36 states in Nigeria. I have visited the roads, the hospitals have been refurbished (never touched in 18 years), the educational institutions wear new looks & new infrastructures where necessary, I have seen the ICT revolutions in Ekiti (which was foremost in Nigeria and quite unknown unlike Opon Imo), the tourism revolution, the revived industries (previously abandoned), the social welfare scheme, amongst many others.
Were the re-election to be based on compelling issues and critical reasoning alone, Dr. Fayemi would not have to campaign. Unfortunately, Nigerian politics currently run on propaganda and populism. Were he a populist, there are no reasons Ekiti people, and indeed the world should not be aware that Ekiti State operated and sustained the first ICT revolution in schools in Nigeria, nor are there reasons why the Ire Burnt Bricks factory’s revival and expected ROIs should not be much taunted; nor the world class tourist center at Ikogosi Warm Spring Resort much publicized; the Legacy projects, the unveiling plans to make Ekiti the “Bangalore of Africa” amongst many amazing projects.It was under Fayemi that I discovered that construction companies do have bonds with banks that require them to repair roads within a specified timeframe if such roads have cracks/flaws else the bonds can be revoked.
Commendable improvements under Fayemi include the social welfare scheme for elders, the revival of the Ire Burnt brick Factory (which will have an estimated N1bn yearly ROI), the massive agricultural projects (YCAD), the transparent spending mechanism (FoI, FRA) and several gender empowerment laws. There is huge disconnect of information amongst the citizenry in Ekiti. This should not be. This would all have made it easy for Governor Fayemi not to stress himself too much on reelection. Nevertheless, I can appreciate his reticence and his complete focus on the job while also taking into consideration the wear such PR efforts may take on the small budget Ekiti has.
The dream of EKITI RECOVERY towards “MAKING POVERTY HISTORY” is a laudable dream that cannot be realized in just 4 years of administration. If we must be honest, we need a sustained, completely competent team who understands what it requires to make this dream a reality at the helm of our affairs. This is why Ekiti state must never return to the hands of Alibaba and his thieves no matter the cost.This is why Ekiti sons and daughters, at home and abroad, must unite and do whatever is required, by all means possible to sustain the mandate of Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
It will be disastrous to think that Ekiti state will find such peace, clarity of purpose, openness, transparent spending, and visionary leadership under Mr. Ayo Fayose – the much-touted spendthrift of Ekiti Politics regardless of whatever claim of repentance he may have. Governor Kayode Fayemi gives me hope, gives Ekiti State hope, and I daresay Nigeria as a whole. Going by Nigerian standards and expectations, there is no reason a state with such low income/revenue should have such advanced development like Ekiti does. States with much succulent income have no excuse for less! JKF, as he is now popularly called, revalidates my new found hope that social critics and civil society activists can combine ideological principles and idealistic leanings with the maneuverings that politics bring. June 21 will remain, for a time to come, the most memorable day in the history of Ekiti State when we eventually re-elect Dr. Fayemi, thereby sustaining the vision and pride of the South West region, and of Nigeria as a whole. That is my hope in this present democratic practice we are wading through.
7th June, 2014
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Today is Day 4 of our protest in Abuja. Each day of this gathering brings together new scenes of crying mothers and renewed passion to keep the pressure on till the girls are brought back. Yesterday night, to the chagrin of many Nigerians, Mr President announced, much so after 18 days of deafening silence from the Presidency, the formation of a committee to look into the over 200+ missing girls from Chibok.
Before this new development, We were repeatedly witnessing the unfortunate process that has characterized this presidency. Every day, since the abduction of these girls. Mr President dilly-dallied, danced away, partied, unconcerned about the welfare and security of these young future leaders. An uncaring leadership has unfortunately been the order of the day in Nigeria.
Our protest on Wednesday, with over 600 participants in the rain, brought brilliant results: we met with the Senate President David Mark, his deputy, the House of Representatives Leader Tambuwal and his deputy who pleaded with us and acknowledged their unfortunately lethargic steps in rescuing the girls. He promised swift action in meeting with the President as regards the issue.
While fortunate to hear firsthand the open and accountable efforts of the NSA at close quarters yesterday, I am shocked and scared at how unprepared we are as a nation to salvage the nation from terror groups and insurgents despite the humongous budgetary allocation appropriated for security. Repeatedly, we have budgeted different but huge amounts for security with no commensurate outcomes (N922bn in 2012, N1trillion in 2013, and N845bn in 2014).
Although I eventually got no response asides the blank stares, I asked the NSA repeatedly yesterday, amongst other questions, why there was no transparent accountability on how the budget was being expended and why repeated mentions of the armed forces’ incapacitation and non-preparedness seemed prominent.
Mr President has declared war on the citizenry by his silence, lack of concern at the expense of looking good in front of International circles in the upcoming WEFA conference (World Ecomomic Forum Africa) between 7-9 May, 2014. This i he is insistent on going ahead with despite the fact that daily, our 200+ girls live in unsafe territories amidst unpleasant situations. News of them being married off (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-2616778/Abducted-girls-married-Nigerian-rebels.html) were yesterday confirmed at our meeting by Senator Zana representing Borno Central.
Seeing that the National Assembly is uninterested (personal observation) in seeking the rescue of these children much as it is interested in other trivial issues; it behoves on us to remember their inconsistency, lack of concern and apparent disregard for issues that are most pertinent in our minds. It is crucial that we vote out all those who have proven absolutely irresponsible and incapable of representing our collective interests in the forthcoming elections.
The future of our nation lies in the hands of its brilliant young and the remaining bloc of patriotic elders, who are willing to voice out against growing social injustice and the wicked silence of our political elite. Today, as it has been since 2007, we are reaping the consequences of bad succession (from president Obasanjo), bad choice of the electorate and the unfortunate complicity of the electoral commission.
As we resume the protests for our missing girls, this is a reminder to you, my friends, the electorates; why YOUR VOTE IN 2015 in electing a competent, capable and empathetic leader is essential to rebuilding the lost years of our great nation. Nigeria is doomed without competent, effective and caring leadership.
NIGERIA BELONGS TO ALL OF US
THE PRESIDENCY’S JAMBOREE BUDGET by Nasir @elrufai February 28, 2014Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, EDUCATION, POLITICS.
Tags: 2014, budget, corruption, Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria
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The year 2014 is already off to a dramatic start with allegations of massive fraud to the tune of about $20 billion (N3.6 trillion) being leveled against the NNPC for failure to remit oil revenue earnings for a period of 19 months. As soon as the revelations gained traction, the governor of the Central Bank was illegally removed, and as usual whenever Jonathan’s government is under pressure, the wanton killings of Nigerians escalated in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.
Boko Haram and President Jonathan seem to be working in unison to ensure attention is diverted from the administration whenever massive cases of corruption are revealed. We saw this with the fuel subsidy protests of January 2012 and several other instances since then. Let us mourn our dead, grieve over the murder of our innocent children, but never lose track of the clear link between Jonathanian theft and the insecurity our nation suffers.
Back to the diversion of federation oil revenues: Under whose watch did the $20 billion disappear and into whose accounts have they gone? Should a government that claims to have the interest of its citizens at heart so brazenly loot public funds? Does the average person know the intricacies of how the budget is appropriated? These are questions that must command the interest of Nigerians as yet another cycle of wasteful spending unfolds.
In seeking answers to the above questions and in line with our tradition of annual budget analyses, we will begin 2014 with an assessment of the Presidency’s allocations. The Presidency has allocations of about N108.2bn. It includes the State House (N33.4bn), the offices of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (N63.2bn) and Head of Civil Service of the Federation (N11.6bn). Indeed, the offices of the National Security Adviser, the Independent Corrupt Practices, Salaries and Wages, Sports and Planning Commissions – and all federal executive bodies can be considered part of the Presidency, though under separate budget sub-heads.
This week, we will look at the ‘Presidency – State House’, while the offices of the SGF and Head of Civil Service will be examined in ensuing weeks. The State House is an important budget subhead that overlooks 14 agencies, some of which are central to Nigeria’s anti-corruption, transparency and disaster preparedness.
In 2013, the Presidency – State House supervised 11 MDAs. This fiscal year, two new operation departments have been created, confirming that this administration is only interested in increasing the size of its already bloated bureaucracy. As the current budget proposal shows, government seems to have cemented a policy that allows wasteful proposals and a very heavy recurrent allocation.
In 2014, the Presidency would spend N33,406,722,566 or 0.7% of the federal budget. On the surface, the amount would represent a decrease of 10.3% or N3, 855,660,039 when compared to the N37, 262,882,605 that it got in 2013. Of this sum, N12.7bn or 38.3% of the budget is apportioned to personnel costs or staff salaries in 10 Departments and agencies under the Presidency. N12.2bn would is for maintaining existing structures and people, effectively bringing the recurrent budget to N25, 016,720,760 or 74.8%. In other words, contrary to the government’s promise to bring down the recurrent budget, it is quietly, but consistently increasing it.
Capital provisions for the Presidency this year would be N8, 390,001,806 or 25.2% of the total budget. There is a reduction in the capital budget of about 41.8% from the N14.4bn 2013 figures. With provisions like these, what immediately becomes clear is that the 2014 budget is a budget of salaries, traveling, tea and coffee for the privileged few that would in no way guarantee any real progress or help Nigerians redress growing poverty and destitution.
Total allocations across agencies reveal the following: State House HQ 26.1%, State House Operations (P) 8.9%, State House Operations (VP) 1.3%, National Boundary Commission 1.9%, Border Communities Development Agency 1.2%, Office of the Special Assistant MDG’s 0.5%, NIPPS, 4.3%, Bureau of Public Enterprises 6.7%, National Emergency Management Agency 3.8%, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission 30.6% and the Bureau of Public Procurement 3.8%.
Similarly, NEITI has 3.3%, National Atomic Energy Commission 6.6% and the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President 0.4% of the total MDA budget. As is evident from the above, the highest allocation of 36.3% goes to the State House alone whose only responsibility is catering to the President and his largely ‘missing-in-action’ deputy.
Analyzing the capital budget further, it becomes clear that this government is insincere in its fight against corruption. How can it justify the allocation of N3.7bn or 44.5% of the Presidency’s total capital allocation to the State House and a paltry N1.4bn or 16.8% to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission? It is even more pathetic when one considers that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) gets a miserly 4% or N339m allocation for capital expenditure in the 2014 fiscal year.
The budgetary provisions can be seen in clearer perspective if you consider that the State House intends to amongst others, spend its capital allocations on building and furnishing guest houses, purchasing vehicles and buses, procuring sauna baths, massage beds and renovating horse stables while the BPP, NEITI, EFCC and NEMA, all agencies which render essential anti-corruption and disaster management services get fractions of its allocation. A closer look at EFCC will suffice to illustrate the sorry state of affairs.
Beyond a shortage of funds, the EFCC faces the challenges of a legal system that grinds slowly and unsurely, resulting in prolonged litigation and outright loss of cases due to poor investigation and evidence gathering. This reality should ordinarily lead to increased funding for legal services under the commission, but President Jonathan simply cannot be bothered.
In 2014, the EFCC would get N283.6m for the services of lawyers and for prosecuting financial crimes. While this is an increase over the 2013 allocation of N100m, it is a classic example of perverse prioritization when you consider that the State House intends to spend N320.2m on honorarium and sitting allowances alone and N267.7m on welfare packages while EFCC has difficulties paying for legal services. NEITI which is the transparency watchdog of the oil industry with less than N70m for capital projects is similarly constrained, while NNPC diverts $20bn without appropriation!
As concerned Nigerians, we should ask important questions like: if the fight against corruption is sincere, why does the State House get an allocation for sitting allowances that is higher than the legal services allocation of the EFCC or NEITI’s capital budget? Why does the Presidency also think that welfare package for a few State House employees is more important than the oil revenue transparency and anti-corruption drive, assuming it can be called that?
To use the NEMA as another example, with Nigeria’s insecurity issues, threats of global warming, flooding and other unforeseen disasters, why is the agency not getting higher allocation for research and development? Instead, nowhere in its paltry N339m capital provision is there a line item for this kind of contingencies. The consequences could be unpreparedness for disasters which would only lead to an increase in the number of internally displaced Nigerians.
Even if the contingency budget under the service-wide vote is resorted to, the time-lag in accessing it and then complying with the provisions of the Public procurement Act 2007 would hamper the operations of NEMA and impact the timeliness of its response to disasters. Even more bothersome is the fact that for both local and international training in 2014, the agency would get some N60.6m, while at N173.3m the State House would get almost thrice that amount for refreshment and feeding alone.
Zoologist or not, President Jonathan must be living on another planet to assume that he is responsible for wildlife conservation and animals, when more than 70% of Nigerians live in abject poverty, insecurity and inequality. How else can one explain spending N100m in tax payers’ funds on wildlife conservation and animals in the fiscal year 2013 and in the 2014 budget proposal? Does Nigeria still have a ministry of environment?
To put this in proper context, in 2013, the Villa spent N7.5m on wildlife conservation and intends to spend N37.5m in 2014 on the same purpose. Upgrading and maintaining the State House zoo would cost Nigerian tax payers some N8m. The renovation of stables cost N7.5m in 2013 and would set the nation back some N15m in the current fiscal year. In addition to all these, we would spend a generous N14.5m for the purchase of two very lucky animals.
Almost every item in the Presidency’s budget proposal redefines the term ‘wasteful’. For instance, there is a provision of N1.5bn for the upgrade of facilities, but the proposal cleverly leaves out details of the facilities to be upgraded. If the budget is finalized as it is, the government would spend N23.7m on the purchase of laundry equipment, N50m on the reconstruction of perimeter fence and gate house for the state house and N310.5m on vehicles purchase. Most ridiculous is the spending of N218.3m on generator fuel. The Presidency should simply get connected to the national grid and experience the much touted ‘improvement’ in power supply if it believes its own fairy tales.
Misappropriation of public funds should not be treated with such levity if there is going to be a more even distribution of national income and if there is any hope of closing the wide gap between the rich and poor in Nigeria. The populace must not fall for the deliberate distraction tactics of this government whenever their failures manifest. Public accountability must be paramount on the minds of those vying for political office as well as the electorate. The $20bn diverted must be accounted for in full to the 36 states and the FCT as well as the 774 local governments that make up our federation. We must demand accountability and insist on it.
The government – beginning with the Presidency – needs to urgently reduce wasteful spending by trimming unnecessary costs and eliminating wasteful provisions to free up funds for investments in human and physical infrastructure. The Presidency should set standard for probity and sensible spending. Unfortunately, the Presidency’s current budget proposal shows no indication of any real progress or positive change, only the jamboree mentality that has become a hallmark of Jonathan’s government.
FESTUS IYAYI: A TRIBUTE by Salihu Lukman @smlukman November 14, 2013Posted by seunfakze in Uncategorized.
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Festus Iyayi: A Tribute
Salihu Moh. Lukman
The name Festus Iyayi symbolizes struggle for academic freedom, democratization of our educational system, national development and socialism. He was the President of Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) in the 1980s and in 1987, under his leadership; the Babangida administration banned ASUU, terminated the employment of Prof. Iyayi from University of Benin and subsequently arrested, detained and tortured him.
It is to the credit of Prof. Iyayi and ASUU leadership that ASUU survived those repressive measures and is operating based on its founding principles. Most organizations, even when they survive hardly are able to make any claims to values.
No doubt, the 1980s was a defining period for popular organizations in Nigeria. It was a period that the Federal Government under the military virtually declared a war against freedom to organize and to that extent declared leaders of organizations as subversives.
In the circumstance, organizations like ASUU, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) faced direct attacks especially under military rule between1984 and 1999. During this period, these organizations were banned severallyand the leadership persecuted, victimized, arrested and detained without trials for months.
Laws were promulgated by government to justify these and in some cases, these laws besides coming with ouster clauses that disqualify our courts from entertaining cases bordering on enforcement of fundamental rights of victims (most of whom are leaders of these organizations), they in some cases even face charges of life and death sentences.
Without any questions, the capacity of organizations to survive those dark periods was challenged and leaders likelate Dr. Mahmud Tukur, Prof. Iyayi, Prof. Attahiru Jega, Alh. Hassan Sumonu,Alh. Ali Ciroma, Comrades Wahab Goodluck, Dapo Fatogun, late Chris Abashi, Lanre Arogundade, Hilkiya Bubajoda, Emma Ezeazu and many others were illustrious in their contributions.
ASUU provided the intellectual foundation for the radical orientation of these organizations to resist and outlive military rule. Sadly, NANS is way distant from its radical nationalist orientation of the 1980s. NLC live in virtually its old glory. Both for NANS and NLC, values may just be limited to bearing a “Comrade” title with hardly any meaning.
More than any organization, ASUU has remained consistent and was able to grow a community of leaders with organic links to wider society. Unlike NLC and NANS, the community of leaders in ASUU have till today sustained ASUU’s organizational focus, orientation and commitment to broader values of national development, which has underpinned its demands and struggles over the years. In the Nigerian context, ASUU is one of the few nongovernmental organizations that has been consistent and in many respect still linked to all its leadership since it was founded.
It was this link that explains Prof. Iyayi’s role and why he was traveling for ASUU NEC meeting on the fateful day, Tuesday, November 12 and lost his life. The pain of Iyayi’s loss has made many of us to ask questions that are at best immaterial. Of course, for many whoonly know Prof. Iyayi remotely, their response reflect a confusion of what may happen to the expected suspension of the three months old ASUU strike.
For those us who were privileged to know Prof. Iyayi, I am not sure any word can convey our feeling. It is a feeling that border on admiration, respect and obedience. I was privileged to serve as NANS President 1988/89 at a time when Students’ Unions were banned in almost all tertiary institutions in the country.
In July 1988 when we were elected, our primary mandate was the re-activation of Students’ Union structures in the country. In the face of repressive measures, a team of more than 20 students leaders from all over the country was basically reduced to a team of four. The first person that resigned from that Exco was the NANS Secretary whose father being a Deputy Commissioner of Police was threatened.
For many of us, it was a period that exposed us to the fact that there are Nigerians that have broken all barriers and risen above all primordial sentiments. These Nigerians related with us in very special ways. Although not older than their children, they discussed every issue with us with respect, treated us like their peers, which in many respects challenged our intellect. In the process, we had good access to academic literature.
Prof. Iyayi, the community of intellectuals in ASUU, patriotic leaders of NLC and other Nigerians really made us who we are today. Without the support of these people, many of us who grow through the ranks of the student movement would have simply evaporated into the confused Nigerian society that recognizes no skill or talent.
Unfortunately, some of us who are privileged to find themselves in the corridors of power forget this fact. Agood example was the way Labaran Maku, current Minister of Information, described Dr. Dipo Fashina as a “character” during the January 2012 fuel subsidy strike. This was to say the least an uncharitable statement coming from Labaran who was a product of the sacrifices of people like Iyayi and Dipo. As brothers and comrades, we have a responsibility to be brutally frank to each other.
Part of the calamity that has befallen us is the fact that we made very stupid mistakes on account of which some of our best are today serving one of the worst governments produced in this country. I am certain this will be contested largely on opportunistic grounds. However, I can accept that at the end of it all the basis of all justifications is simply our stupid mistakes of not engaging the Abdulsalami transition programme in1998 in an organized way. On account of this mistake, people like Labaran have taken individual decisions and may have forgotten their own history.
This highlight a strong disconnect between those of us who have passed through the mentorship of people like Iyayi. One cannot but salute the capacity of that old community of leaders that include Prof. Iyayi, Dr. Fashina, Prof. Olorode, Alh. Sumonu, etc. Somehow,these leaders must be going through traumatizing experiences of having to absorb all these shocks and continue to provide unwavering leadership in the struggles for Nigeria’s development.
Part of the criticism against ASUU is the fact that it has only one weapon of fighting bad governance and dictatorship. That weapon is STRIKE. Under democracy, there are other weapons, which include lobbying National Assembly. Of course, given the realities facing us, it islegitimate to have low confidence with respect to outcomes of engagement with National Assembly. There is also the fact that strikes have worked very well for ASUU. Since the early 1990s, all ASUU strikes have succeeded in terms of winning demands. In some ways therefore, ASUU and its leadership are only responding instinctively.
Perhaps, we need to find ways of engaging some of our leaders and mentors such that they are challenged to act more logically and scientifically. I have no direct answers with respect to this but I believe that strike, especially the current one, may not be the best logical and scientific answer to the problem of breach of contractual agreement. There are certainly other solutions. The best tribute we can give to Prof. Iyayi is for us all as a nation to commit ourselves to finding all the options at our disposal to address the problem of irresponsible conducts of our governments and leaders.
Prof. Iyayi would have been very much alive with us today but for the irresponsible conduct of our federal government to breach the agreement it willfully entered into with ASUU. On account of that breach, unquantifiable amount of resources have been wasted, including loss of lives. The loss of Prof. Iyayi is the high point. May it be the turning point such that as a people we are able to commit ourselves to rescuing this country? May the death of Prof. Iyayi awaken all of us to the need to discover new ways and methods of solving all our societal problems especially those created by the irresponsible conducts of our governments and leaders. Finally, may thedeath of Prof. Iyayi serve as the watershed in the struggle for higher education in the country such that strikes become the remotest of weapons and least employed?
Rest in peace Prof. Festus Iyayi!